Namibia to reduce maternal and newborn mortality

Tujoromajo Kasuto

THE Minister of Health and Social Services, Kalumbi Shangula, today launched the National Guideline for “Antenatal Care (ANC) for a Positive Pregnancy Experience 2020” for expecting mothers.

This guideline aims to reduce maternal and newborn mortality. The overall goal is to eliminate preventable maternal deaths and near misses, stillbirths and neo-natal deaths through quality improvement strategies derived from the identification and analysis of circumstances around these deaths and near misses. Namibia has developed the National Guideline in line with the latest World Health Organization (Who) recommendations.

The purpose of this guideline is to guide health care professionals to provide integrated antenatal care service to all pregnant women and adolescent girls through a continuum of care for the delivery of evidence based interventions aimed to improve maternal, fetal and newborn health and their survival. Shangula says Namibia’s maternal and perinatal death rates remain a major challenge in Namibia. Quality and effective ANC reduces complications from pregnancy and delivery, reduces stillbirths and perinatal deaths, and offers an opportunity for integrated care during pregnancy.

He explains that Namibia has been implementing Focused Ante Natal Care (FANC) since 2014. However, the FANC model with four ANC visits was found to increase perinatal mortality, and was associated with poor satisfaction of pregnant women and is no longer recommended.

Thus, in line with the latest global evidence and the 2016 WHO recommendations, Namibia has adopted the standard ANC model with eight contacts. The new ANC model aims to ensure equitable access to, and appropriate utilization of quality antenatal care services provided by appropriately skilled health-care workers to enable the client to achieve a positive pregnancy experience.

Shangula mentions that globally, in 2017, about 300 000 women died from pregnancy and childbirth related complications, while many were left with lifetime debilitations. About 94 percent of these deaths occurred in low-resource settings with Sub-Saharan Africa accounting for roughly two-thirds of all maternal deaths that could have been prevented.

Shangula further adds that more than five million stillbirths and neo-natal deaths occur globally, of which 99 percent occur in low and middle income countries. There is evidence that more than 70 percent of these women could be saved with quality maternal and newborn care services. Hence there is a need to invest in skilled care during pregnancy, childbirth and the postnatal period.

Shangula declares the country’s the national commitment, as evidenced in the National Policy on Sexual, Reproductive and Child Health (2013), the Harambee Prosperity Plan (2016–2020), and the Fifth National Development Plan (NDP5, 2017–2022) demonstrates the high level of attention and priority given to the health of women and children.

Namibia is a signatory to various international commitments, including the goals for ending preventable maternal and child deaths by 2035 and the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030. With less than a decade left to achieve the SDGs targets, he says it is crucial that accelerated actions are taken to achieve the national and global targets articulated for maternal, newborn and fetal health.

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